Menstrual Health Matters: Exploring young people’s experience of menstrual education at school in Scotland and its effectiveness in supporting their understanding of menstruation and menstrual health. A study of QMU students aged 18-24.
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Background Menstruation is confined to a culture of secrecy and stigma, despite being a natural process of female reproduction. Many societies have become ignorant to menstruators needs with limited access to information, sanitary products and healthcare which poses major health risks for this population. The provision of accurate menstrual education is highlighted as a key initiative in menstrual health autonomy. Supporting individuals to effectively manage their menstrual needs is a matter of protecting their sexual and reproductive health rights and limiting health inequalities. Methods This study aims to explore the effectiveness of menstrual education in secondary schools in Scotland through the use of a narrative literature review and online questionnaire. The questionnaire generated both qualitative and quantitative data from 13 young women aged 18-24. The use of an adapted version of the conceptual framework of self-care guided the analysis of the research findings. Results Young women across different settings did not value their school education to be effective in meeting their needs on how to manage and assess menstruation. The main themes identified are information sources, health-seeking behaviours, menstrual knowledge and menstrual perceptions. Gender disparities was an overarching theme within the literature and narratives of the questionnaire, indicating that this was an influencing factor. Conclusion Poor provision of menstrual education has resulted in young people accessing information from other resources, risking exposure to inaccurate information. Therefore, recommendations have been proposed for future practice and policy development in the improvement of menstrual education.